Alberto Fernandez wins Argentina’s presidential election

Peronist candidate, Alberto Fernandez, won Argentina’s presidential election on Sunday.

Fernandez, a 60-year-old law professor, had 48 per cent of the votes — easily crossing the threshold for outright victory — after 99 per cent of the votes had been counted, with center-right incumbent Macri trailing at 40.44 per cent.

His win also caps a remarkable political comeback for his running mate, ex-president Cristina Kirchner, who will be his vice-president despite facing a slew of trials over graft stemming for her 2007-2015 presidency.

Macri, 60, pledged “a healthy and constructive opposition.”

He told his supporters he had spoken by phone to Fernandez and had “invited him to breakfast tomorrow at the Casa Rosada because he has to start a period of orderly transition that will bring tranquility to Argentines.”

Fernandez earlier vowed to end the polarization which has long divided Argentine politics between his Peronist movement and supporters of the business-friendly incumbent.

“The days of ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ are over,” the moustachioed leftist leader said after voting in the swanky Puerto Madero neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. “We are in an enormous crisis. Everyone has to take responsibility for what’s ahead.”

Thousands of ecstatic Fernandez supporters cheered and danced outside his Frente de Todos party headquarters in Buenos Aires even before the results were announced.

At Fernandez’s side, Kirchner called on Macri in the last days of his rule “to take all necessary measures to alleviate this dramatic situation.”

Argentina’s poverty rate has risen to more than 35 per cent, inflation for the year to September was at almost 38 per cent, while the peso has depreciated 70 per cent since January 2018.

Macri, whose popularity has fallen sharply in the last year as Argentina battled recession and market turmoil, said after he voted that competing “visions of the future” were at stake in the polls.

On a night of disappointment for the center-right, there was some consolation when the candidate for Macri’s Together for Change coalition easily won the mayorship of the city of Buenos Aires.

– Regional tensions –

The election came amid high tensions in the region, with massive protests in neighbouring Chile and Bolivia, as well as recent unrest over inequality in Ecuador.

Fernandez paid tribute to Evo Morales for his election victory in neighbouring Bolivia to win a fourth term, and wished jailed ex-Brazil president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva — 74 on Sunday — a happy birthday.

Turnout in Sunday’s general election was over 80 per cent after a campaign dominated by the crippling economic crisis affecting Latin America’s second-biggest economy.

Macri had called for a massive turnout, which analysts saw as his main hope of closing a large opinion poll deficit on Fernandez and forcing a second round.

Fernandez has insisted his government would not default but rather seek to renegotiate the terms of the loan, and sought to reassure voters that their bank deposits would be safe under his administration.

Since Fernandez’s crushing victory in August primaries, Argentine savers have withdrawn around $12 billion from their accounts.